I'm back after a hiatus and have posted a revised version in Post #41. Will happy return all critiques!
Still revising the story itself but wanted to get a head start on the query! Will gladly return any critiques.
Cherry, a housemaid in Victorian Boston, is hopelessly in love with her employer, department store owner Thomas Ellis. For Thomas, trapped in a lustless, childless marriage, it's easy to find solace in Cherry. Their mutual attraction culminates in a tryst on the floor of Thomas' study--only for Cherry to find herself dismissed the very next day. In one fell swoop, Cherry loses her job, her home, and the man she thought she loved. Heartbroken and angry, Cherry struggles to survive on the streets of Boston until she finds employment as a maid in an upscale brothel. But it's not just any brothel: it caters to gentlemen who would rather pay for pain than pleasure. When Thomas himself walks through the door, a case of mistaken identity leads Cherry to be alone in a room with the bound, blindfolded Thomas. What starts as a vicious beating--Cherry's revenge--turns into a heart-wrenching apology from Thomas for the way he treated her. Cherry sets aside her anger and allows herself to fall back in love with Thomas. They strike up a relationship full of the pleasure and pain they both crave. But when Thomas' wife dies in childbirth, he chooses to remarry for business interests rather than love, spurning Cherry for a second time. Cherry sets out to ruin his life once and for all, but realizes too late that her revenge might come at the cost of her own life when she finds herself in jail for arson.
[housekeeping and sendoff]